Leadership Academy offers real-world insights

Nicole Layne doesn’t consider herself an outgoing type, but something about Chattahoochee Technical College’s Student Leadership Academy made her rethink her personality.

“I wasn’t even sure if something like that would be in my court because I tend to be an introvert,” said the mother of two. “But it piqued my interest.”

Students who want to apply for the academy must be enrolled full- or part-time, have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and provide evidence of community or work-related activities. They must also pass two rigorous interviews, including one by a panel of questioners.

After meeting those criteria, Layne was accepted into the program, which launched in 2016. This spring marked the eighth academy that typically draws 10 to 15 students from across the college to the North Metro campus in Acworth. Every other Friday, the cohort explored principles of leadership and picked up insights from business and industry professionals in the Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding and Bartow areas where CTC has locations.

“One thing we hear from leaders is that it’s hard to find good leaders,” said Nina Faix, CTC’s associate director of curriculum and institutional effectiveness. “We worked with the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation to find business and industry partners who could give our students direct knowledge of what they look for in leaders and provide workplace skills.”

Experts from fields such as engineering, health care, manufacturing, sales, real estate and automotive have been part of the program, said Faix.

“The feedback from community leaders has been so positive,” she said. “Some of them have come back as repeat facilitators; they ask when we’re starting the next one. And several have become mentors and connected students in their industries.”

The program kicks off with participants’ creating a leadership profile based on their personalities. They look at different leadership styles and consider how they work with different employees. The program also focuses on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills.

“The personality assessment allowed me to see how I communicate with others and how that benefits or hinders me,” said Layne. “I’ve learned there are better ways of communicating with those you are leading, and that was pretty key for me.”

The community partners also provide supplies and breakfast on the days the sessions are held. When the program ends, students write essays about what they learned and the lessons’ impact, and the winner receives a $500 award. Layne won the prize this year.

“I thought this program would give me a more well-rounded understanding of myself and how I can lead and help others,” she said. “Now I can more efficiently do that.”

Information about Chattahoochee Technical College is online at chattahoocheetech.edu.

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